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MWC: Caterpillar Cat B15 hands-on review

We get our mitts on Cat's rugged Android smartphone
Fri Mar 01 2013, 10:45

BARCELONA: TRACTOR MAKER Caterpillar showed off its Cat B15 smartphone at MWC, and it was one of the most interesting things we saw at the mobile technology show.

The Cat B15 is designed to challenge handsets like the Samsung Galaxy Xcover with its protection against the elements including dust, scratches and especially water.

This indestructible goal means that the Cat B15 isn't the prettiest smartphone on the market, but we couldn't help but warm to the rugged design of the handset.

The Cat B15 features a quirky rugged design

The Cat B15 features an odd octagonal shape, and the rear is coated in a thick rubberised plastic material, which in hand feels like it could withstand anything that's thrown at it. This plastic is trimmed with aluminium edges that add to the overall rugged and surprisingly high-end feel of the phone.

However, this protective casing does mean that the Cat B15 is quite a large device, and at 12.7mm thick it's not the most comfortable smartphone to hold, especially when compared to the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2.

Cat was keen for us to put the smartphone through its paces at the Barcelona technology show. First off, we chucked the handset at the exhibition hall wall, and were convinced we'd done some damage when the device fell to the floor with a loud thud. However, the Cat B15 came out of the tumble completely unscathed.

We also put the handset in water, which seemed to have no effect on the B15 whatsoever.

Caterpillar's Cat B15 is waterproof

We also found it easy to operate the handset's touchscreen straight after it had been dunked - a definite bonus for those who spend a lot of time outdoors. The internals apparently remained undamaged too, thanks to the Cat B15's protective plugs.

Looking past its rugged construction, it's hard to believe that the Cat B15 is a fully functioning Android smartphone. Chief amongst its specifications is a 4in WVGA screen, which although it struggled to stack up against other rival smartphones in terms of brightness and clarity, proved plenty clear and responsive enough for a device of this nature.

Cat announces the Android-powered B15 at MWC 2013

This is no doubt aided by the handset's dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor, which seems to keep things chugging along smoothly.

The Cat B15 also runs Google's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean mobile operating system (OS), which furnishes the phone with features like Google Now, another boon for travellers and outdoors types. Cat has thankfully done little to modify the Android mobile OS, despite adding a few custom applications that tie in well with the theme of the handset.

That's not all the Cat B15 has to offer, as there's also a 5MP camera on its rear and a 2,000mAh battery. We have yet to test these fully, but will be sure to do so in our full review.

Cat tells us that the B15 smartphone will be available in the UK via Phones 4U in March, priced at around £299. µ

 

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